Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Tenant

            “So you’re just going to put your stuff in the hallway,” asked 2015.
            “Yeah, my moving guys are supposed to pick it all up in the morning,” said 2014.
            “Cool. Cool. So, there’s not much stuff there,” said 2015
            “Well, I really didn’t do too much, so there just wasn’t much to put together,” said 2014 as he shrugged.

            2015 stepped around 2014’s tattered brown cardboard boxes. The boxes had strange stains on them in various places. The majority of the stains looked like blood marks to 2015.

            “What’s all that,” asked 2015, pointing to a particularly heavily blood stained box.

            2014 barely looked up from the box he was taping closed marked LOVE LETTERS and sort of smirked.

            “That was mostly summer in Chicago and well, other places around the U.S.,” said 2014.
            “Sheesh, do you think I’ll have any boxes like that after my lease is up,” asked 2015.

            2014 shrugged again and pushed the LOVE LETTERS box out into the hallway. He moved the box marked SEX SCANDALS further down the hall toward the elevators. That was the one he was worried the movers were going to forget. It seemed like everybody forgot those after a while.

            “I saw you had some new mail in the mailbox downstairs,” said 2015.
            “Yeah, it’s probably for all the folks that die before my lease ends. Don’t worry about those, we’ll share them a little,” said 2014.
            “Were you this nervous when you moved in,” asked 2015.
            “Actually, I wasn’t. I was already pretty pessimistic when I took the job so I really didn’t have any anxiety about it. But I am nervous for you. This is going to be a weird one,” said 2014.
            “You think so,” asked 2015.
            “Oh yeah, totally weird. But don't dwell on it.”

            2015 looked around the small apartment. It was dusty and a little dingy. There wasn’t very much light coming in through the large windows that faced the street below. The air was just heavy.

            “You didn’t dust,” asked 2015.
            “Oh, I did. But you’ll discover that that fine layer of dust never goes away. No matter how often you try and wipe it away, it just shows up again. Just try not to let it build up too much or it’ll get into other things and really muck up the works. In fact, that’s my only advice as you take this apartment over, try not to let things get too cluttered. Clutter leads to chaos,” said 2014.
            “Well, I’ll try,” said 2015.

            2014 looked around the room without much concern, patted his pants pockets, found the keys and handed them over to 2015.

            “Okay pal, I’m just about out of here. I’m going to go down to the bar for a few drinks before the lease officially ends. Do you want to join me for a few?”

            2015 took the keys and shrugged.

            “Sure. Why not? I could probably use a few drinks before this gets going,” said 2015.
            “Atta boy,” said 2014.

            2015 turned a light on in the apartment and followed 2014 down the stairs and outside to the bar around the corner.

Monday, December 22, 2014


            The children were screaming and running and far too excited about their Christmas school break. The park was alive with children as Edgar shuffled along its outer rim. Usually on Mondays he could leisurely stroll along the border of the park, feed the squirrels and then head back home before it got too cold. He’d been able to do it a lot more often these days due to the unseasonable warmth. Now that the kids were out of school for their holiday break, Edgar wasn’t even sure he wanted to enter the park. There were just too many kids running around like little maniacs and Edgar didn’t want to lose his balance on his cane and fall if one of the little rug-rats happened to nudge him or just scare him as they ran by. He’d forgotten how much time kids got off from school these days. He remembered back when he was a boy, 80 years ago, he only got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off from school. Now these kids seemed to have weeks and weeks off.

            Edgar started to turn back from the park and decided he’d head up toward the coffee place that all the young people sit and type on their laptops. He thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded today since it was two days before Christmas. It was always too crowded and he hated going in there, but they had such delicious coffee. He just hated going in there when it was crowded because he hated being the old man that everyone had to wait for. He didn’t really mind being old most days, but when he was in the way of the younger folks, he could just feel their impatience with him burning the back of his neck. He remembered how he had felt when some old coot was in line in front of him when he was a young man. He remembered the impatience he’d felt as some feeble codger was trying to make their way through the checkout line at the store. So he understood that maybe the young folks didn’t have the patience for him nowadays.

            The children at the park screaming with Christmas break joyfulness started to fade. Edgar thought that the lack of any snow must be unfortunate for the kids these days. He felt like all his childhood winters were completely snow bound. He remember years of snowball fights with the other neighborhood boys and girls, the sledding, the ice skating at Miss Jean’s pond, the constant fluttering of snow falling, endlessly falling all through the Christmas season. Now these kids just had muddy, damp fields to run around in without snow. Edgar had heard it had something to do with the climate, but he’d really stopped paying attention to the news after Margaret had died. She was the real newshound, not Edgar. Margaret would pour over the morning paper all day and watch all the TV news shows. She always wanted to know what was going on in the world. Edgar really just wanted to relax and not get too involved in the goings-on of the world. It was going to roll on without him at some point and he didn’t much care to think about it too much. But he did remember Margaret telling him, “one day Edgar, there won’t be any snow at Christmas because of this Global Warming and Climate Change”. Who know then that she’d be right? Edgar sort of smiled as he walked. Margaret was always right, who was he kidding.

            The coffee shop around the corner was one of those chain coffee spots, but the prices were pretty decent. Edgar walked in and was immediately oppressed by the very loud Christmas music blasting from the store’s overhead speakers. It was The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, if you wanted to go completely deaf apparently. Edgar stood at the doorway for a moment and look up toward the smiling cashier girl at the counter. She had said something to Edgar but he couldn’t hear her because of the loud Christmas music.

            “Pardon me,” he yelled.

            The girl at the counter frowned at him. He hadn’t expected her to frown. Maybe she hadn’t heard what he said so he said it again, louder.

            “Pardon me young lady,” he shouted.

            She was still frowning but pointed at Edgar to get in line; which was only three people deep. Edgar nodded and limped slowly with his cane toward the back of the line.  He was glad the place wasn’t crowded. The middle aged woman in front of him, very wide in the hips, so wide that he big winter coat appeared to have tiers, turned in front of Edgar and smiled. Edgar smiled back. The music was still far too loud for Edgar but he was sure he saw the middle aged woman say something to him. She looked at him and then pointed at her own ear and said something again. It struck Edgar why it was so loud. He had his hearing aid turned up way too high and it was emitting a terrible peal. No wonder The Most Wonderful Time of the Year was so unbearable.

            Edgar took out his hearing aid and turned the volume down to a normal level and put it back in his ear.

            “Sorry, I usually turn it up when I go for a walk so I can hear all the traffic and such,” said Edgar apologetically.
            “No problem, my mother does it all the time,” said the Middle aged woman in front of Edgar.
            “Thank you for telling me it was squealing so much,” said Edgar.
            “No trouble at all. Merry Christmas,” said the Middle aged woman as she turned back toward the counter.
            “Yes, Merry Christmas to you too,” said Edgar.

            Edgar felt like a stupid old man suddenly. He let himself fall into that fantasy where he wasn’t 88 years old, but he was still young. He didn’t feel old. He didn’t feel like this would be his 88th Christmas on this Earth. He looked at his gnarled knuckles on his left hand as it gripped his cane with such tightness. His hands didn’t feel weak, just his knee really. That why he got the stupid cane, plus he’d always wanted a cane like those proper English gentlemen he’d always read about with their classy walking sticks. His cane was from Walgreen’s but still, it was black and Edgar thought it did the job.

            “Sir? Sir? Can I take your order,” asked the young girl at the counter.

            Edgar looked up from his hands to see that the two people in front of him were gone off to the side, waiting to get their coffee orders. At least there wasn’t anyone behind him to tell him to hurry up or to, “move it old man”.  Edgar stepped up toward the counter.

            “I’m sorry,” he apologized, wondering why he was apologizing just for getting old, “I’ll have that middle size mint chocolate coffee please,” said Edgar.
            The young woman looked a little surprised that Edgar knew what he was talking about as far as flavors of coffee and sizes. He’d studied the menu before and had heard other people order in the past so he knew how it was done.

            “Name,” asked the young girl.
            “Edgar,” he said.

            She wrote his name on the mid-sized cup. She took his four dollars and twenty five cents and then she smiled at him.

            “Thank you,” she said and she turned to the barista.

            Edgar smiled back a little and then shuffled toward the front windows and sat down at one of the tables with a view of the street and the park. The shop windows were decorated with various Christmas lights and garland and were actually pretty tasteful. Edgar looked out toward the park; over his head Frosty the Snowman was doing something on the speakers, the noise of the coffee machines blending things together. Edgar leaned forward a bit on his chair and cane. It had started snowing every so lightly outside. The small flakes were drifting down gently, almost so you wouldn’t notice. Edgar leaned back in his chair, he thought about Margaret and how beautiful she looked all lit up by the Christmas tree lights glow. He thought about rolling around in the snow with her before their first daughter was born. He thought about how the house would smell of gingerbread and pine tree at Christmas time.  He thought about the snow piling up, burying the city, deeper and deeper until no one could get anywhere and all they could do was just enjoy the things they had.

            “Edgar,” called the young woman’s voice.

            Edgar rose slowly from his seat and picked up his coffee from the counter.

            “Merry Christmas,” said the young woman.
            “Merry Christmas to you to,” smiled Edgar.

            He went back to his table, sat down, watched the snow start to thicken on the sidewalk and did indeed feel like his 88th Christmas might be a merry one. Indeed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Half steps and Half measures,
half cups,
half thought out,
half wits.

Half tries,
half assed,
half way,
half moments.

Half made,
Half empty,
Half full,
half caff.

Half dollar,
Half cent,
Half time,
Half sense.

Half a second,
Half a moment,
Half after,
Half pay.

Half way,
Half closed,
Half open,
Half shown.

Half is a crazy
appearing word after
you type it over and
over again.

But that’s just one way of
looking at it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Late Monday

Fold it up,
Put it away,
Close the drawer,
Put papers in order.

Get your coat,
Get your hat,
Get your scarf,
Get your umbrella.

It was dark when
you arrived,
It is dark while you

Shuffle in the crowd,
Weave through the masses,
Find your space, your seat,
your car, your train.

Close your eyes,
Dwell on it,
Let it go.

Play your game,
plug in the music,
Read the words,

Don’t think about
all the time spent thinking
about time spent thinking about
the time it’ll take.

It’s late Monday
and Tuesday will
come with fresh torments
or joys whether you want
it to or not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

They Go Together

             “I think I want to see other kinds,” said Peanut Butter.
            “What,” asked Grape Jelly.
            “I mean, it’s just a big world out there and I just feel like we’re not who we used to be,” said Peanut Butter.
            Jelly put down his coffee mug and stared at Peanut Butter. She looked away from him and down at the bread on her plate.

            “But, we go together. I mean, we just… go together,” said Jelly.
            “I know how you must feel but I just wonder if there’s more out there than just grape,” said Peanut Butter.
            “More than just grape?”

            Peanut Butter stood from the kitchen table in the breakfast nook they had decorated together. She went to the sink and put her plate down. She looked out the window.

            “I asked you what more is out there than grape,” asked Jelly.
            “I didn’t want this to be so hard,” said Peanut Butter.
            “Just tell me,” said Grape.

            Peanut Butter turned and faced Jelly. She wiped her soft hair offer her forehead.

            “I mean, we’ve been the same for so long. We’ve just done it over and over again without any variation. I don’t think I can do it anymore,” said Peanut Butter.
            “What? I mean, do you want to try Rye maybe,” asked Jelly.
            “I don’t know. Maybe Rye would be a nice change, but it’s probably more than that,” said Peanut Butter.
            Jelly rubbed his chin and pushed his hair back.

            “Where is this coming from,” asked Jelly.
            “It’s just time,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I can change. I can be different for you,” said Jelly.

            Jelly moved toward Peanut Butter but she pulled away.

            “You can’t change. That’s just it. You’ll always just be who you are and can’t be any different,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I want to be different for you. You’re everything to me. Without you I’m just nothing,” said Jelly.
            “You need to get out there too. Try new things,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I don’t want to try new things. It’s us; it’s Peanut Butter and Jelly. That’s how it is,” said Jelly.
            “It doesn’t have to be. What if I want to try Strawberry or orange or even apricot,” asked Peanut Butter.
            “You’ve been talking to Strawberry,” asked Jelly.
            “No. No I haven’t been talking to anyone. I’ve just been wondering what it might be like to be with someone else,” said Peanut Butter.

            Her eyes were dampening with tears and she looked away from Jelly. Jelly sat back down at the table and felt his heart beating heavy in his chest. He felt at a loss for words. He felt that the thing he’d trusted and believed in for so long was being pulled away from him.

            “What do you want me to do,” asked Jelly.    
            “I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I am leaving by lunchtime. It’s just what I have to do. I’ve tried so hard with us, but it’s always going to be the same,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I don’t want you to go,” said Jelly.
            “It’s hard for me too. Harder than you can imagine. But I really think it’s what’s best for the both of us,” said Peanut Butter.

            Peanut Butter wiped her eyes and wiped her hands on her pajama bottoms. She looked at Jelly, sadly sitting at the table. Defeated. He was slumped forward. Fighting the urge to start bawling.

            “I’m sorry it has to be this way,” said Peanut Butter.

            Jelly looked blankly at the kitchen table. He couldn’t find anything to say. He was just lost in memories and smiles and all the wonderful times they’d had together. He felt an anger bubbling inside but he swallowed it, knowing to get angry with Peanut Butter would only make things worse. He looked up from the table toward Peanut Butter.

            “I understand that you need this. I’ll be here when you’re ready,” said Jelly.

            Peanut Butter sobbed slightly under a heavy sigh. She turned to the doorway and walked out of the kitchen. Jelly picked up his coffee mug and took a cold, bitter sip.